The California Department of Justice withdrew a regulation Wednesday evening which broadened the application of the term “assault weapon” to apply to more types of firearms.
The state Justice Department did so after a lawsuit filed by a group of gun rights advocacy organizations including Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF), Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), The Calguns Foundation (CGF) and California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees (CAL-FFL).
“The DOJ’s proposed rule making in this case was a smoke-screen to cover their tracks and other prior unlawful regulatory actions,” said FPC President Brandon Combs in a statement. “While we are pleased that our opposition efforts were ultimately successful here, we know that Attorney General Becerra is relentless in his attacks on law-abiding gun owners and their Second Amendment rights. FPC will continue to defend the people of California and our Constitution from his DOJ’s abusive executive actions.”
The lawsuit was filed, SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb said in a previous statement, because of California DOJ’s Firearms Application Reporting System (CFARS) breaking down during the deadline week for people to register their firearms in accordance with new state laws.
“For a whole week the system was largely inaccessible, so people who wanted to comply with the law simply couldn’t and now they face becoming criminals because they couldn’t do what the law requires,” said Gottlieb.
Following the California DOJ announcement, Combs described the case to The Daily Caller as a “due process” issue more than anything else. According to Coombs, registration of firearms in California was a fairly simple process that was made clear by state officials in the past via media campaigns and required lawful firearm owners to fill out a postcard and send it to the appropriate authorities.
“This time they cut out all of the outreach. They purposefully essentially hid the football and didn’t tell all the people in California, ‘Hey here’s your legal duties.’ And they created this new system rather than a very simple online system…They built this very complicated system in our view,” said Combs.
He explained, “In one of our other lawsuits, we argue that they unlawfully require a bunch of information including pictures of the gun that frankly made it impossible to use and it crashed their system. They had technical defects. They knew about it that they knew about these problems last year and they did nothing about it.”
Although California relented on imposing its gun registration this time, FPC is still involved with other lawsuits related to the state of California and its restrictions on firearms. One such case to watch for, Combs says, is the 9-year old case Peña V. Lindley.
“It’s still in the Ninth Circuit. That was argued last February in 2017 and submitted. So it’s just been sitting waiting for a decision for nearly a year and a half. So we expect that the 9th Circuit will probably rule on that case sometime soon,” said Combs.
*7/17/18 – This article has been updated to clarify the specific nature of the regulation that was withdrawn.